When I first encountered these sea turtles, it was a cold, cloudy day. Climbing down a rail to the Zodiac bobbing in the waves, I stepped into the boat and pulled my towel closer. We were being taken to a secluded cove to snorkel, but looking at the frothing, grey waters I didn't feel too keen on getting out of my warm, dry towel.
However, once we reached the cove, one by one we slid off the boat and into the water.
And each promptly got a heart attack from the cold.
I'm not kidding, this water was freezing. Around sixty degrees at the warmest, some spots plunged to the high forties. This is why I strongly recommend a wet-suit. Even with the wet-suit the shock was enormous. My brother, the one with the squid attack, unthinkingly jumped into the water and immediately flew back out, gasping and sputtering, and refused to get back in.
For those that braved the cold, however, an incredible surprise would be waiting for them.
Around forty huge sea turtles drifted in the water, gracefully moving their fins as they swam fluidly through the navy water. They were so close sometimes you had to move out of the way let them pass, and when you looked below you all you could see was their brown shells punctuating the deep black darkness. They weren't fully green, but on their patterned beaks and fins there were a few traces of deep emerald.
Unafraid of humans, these sea turtles allowed us to swim in their midst. It was like we were part of their pod.
Sea turtles weren't the only thing that joined us, however. At one point, sea lions charged through the water and twirled around us, chasing their tails like dogs and leaving a trail of silver bubbles. They played and frisked as the sea turtles calmly swam past.
I guess the sea turtles liked the cold water, which is more nutrient-filled than warm water. They definitely didn't seem to mind the freezing temperatures. After a while, I didn't either-- this sight is so amazing it wipes any other thought from your head-- and before I knew it, an hour had passed, and I had to reluctantly re-board the zodiac.
I felt lucky that I had seen these graceful turtles. They're like birds, the way they slowly soar through the water and flap their fins. Though they stand in the shadow of the tortoises, these green sea turtles are a true jewel of Galapagos.